OBETZ, Ohio – The Columbus Crew are on pace to score 38 goals this season, three fewer than their total last year and 12 less than their MLS Championship 2008 season.
And scoring is a concern. The Crew have been blanked in two straight matches and have just three goals during a 0-3-2 streak going into Saturday’s match at Toronto FC.
The bigger issue, however, has been the timing of the goals they have scored. In 3-1 losses at Chivas USA and the LA Galaxy, Columbus scored in the 85th and 88th minutes, respectively, to avoid three-goal shutouts. Those goals couldn’t overcome the deficit they had built.
[inline_node:319930]Had the Crew been able to mount responses earlier in the match, the outcomes may have been different.
A 4-0 loss to the Seattle Sounders raised further concerns about scoring in the Columbus camp. After yielding a goal in the 4th minute, the Crew were all over Seattle for the next 25, but not could not put the equalizer past Kasey Keller. The goalkeeper was brilliant, at times, but there were many examples of inept finishing as well.
After pushing so hard, the Crew had a letdown and gave up two goals before the break.
“Those misses are going to haunt you,” Crew coach Robert Warzycha said. “There’s a perfect time to score and sometimes it goes that way but other times we can’t buy a goal.
“The thing is we’ve created chances,” he said. “We’ve had chances to have the lead or tie 1-1, but in some of those games the goalie made unbelievable saves.”
That’s what happened in a scoreless draw against visiting San Jose on Oct. 2. The Crew had several good looks early before ex-Columbus keeper Jon Busch made several excellent saves.
[inline_node:316645]“I think we’re all feeling a little bit of pressure now because we haven’t won in five or six games,” midfielder Robbie Rogers said.
Even when the Crew have the lead, they haven’t been able to kill the match.
Kevin Burns put the Crew up 1-0 in the 24th minute of the U.S. Open Cup final on Oct. 5, but the could not extend the lead against Seattle. Columbus gave up the tying goal 14 minutes later and the Sounders went on to win 2-1.
The only positive showing lately was rallying from a 2-0 deficit in the second half to tie New England on Sept. 25. A Steven Lenhart goal and Guillermo Barros Schelotto’s penalty earned the point.
Warzycha said 11 games in 39 days took a toll because players became fatigued and the lack of practices reduced their sharpness.
He gave the players three days off after Friday’s defeat at Chicago and they looked reenergized this week.
“With the rest we have and maybe the mental break we can get that composure back in front of the goal,” he said.